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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy Photo Lauren Argo’s “Father’s Daughter Cycle” is performance art telling the story of a dying tobacco farm in rural Kentucky. Argo will bring the piece to Bentonville’s 21c Museum Hotel on Saturday. Performances are at 6 and 8 p.m.

BENTONVILLE -- Artist Lauren Argo will speak about the shifting of Southern culture and traditions through her piece "Father's Daughter Cycle" this weekend.

The 20-minute, multi-media performance art piece explores a girl's childhood and the death of a small Kentucky tobacco farm. It's from the perspective of the farmer's daughter and takes the audience through one day in her life exploring the masculine and feminine roles of farm life, Argo said.

At A Glance

Performance

“Father’s Daughter Cycle” will be performed at 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday in gallery four at 21c Museum Hotel, 200 N.E. A St. The performance is free. The performers also will be in costume at the farmers market Saturday morning. The market is open from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Downtown Square.

Source: Staff Report

The performances will be at 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday at 21c Museum Hotel.

It's autobiographical as Argo grew up on a tobacco farm with a rich family and cultural heritage in Cynthiana, Ky. It used to be a tobacco-growing hub, but tobacco farms have disappeared as the crop is imported from other countries, Argo said.

"With that being taken away, I wanted to make a statement to process artistically why that's happening," she said.

Argo's piece was first performed in 2006. It's been shown several times in Lexington, Ky., and Louisville, Ky.

"It's been an ongoing project, and this will be the first time we have taken it outside the state of Kentucky," she said.

The performance has been part of a larger installation, which includes a setting of the interior of a barn, but Saturday's show will focus on the performance art aspect, Argo said.

There are four characters: the farmer, who will be played by Daniel Dutton; the farmer's wife, who will be played by Natalie Fields; his daughter, who will be played by Argo; and the spirit or dream self, which introduces the daughter to a world beyond the farm, will be played by Victoria Reibel, Argo said.

All wear white masks with distinctions such as red lips or thick eyebrows. None speak, though voice-over text is part of the production.

While the stark white masks may seem off-putting or creepy at first glance, they allow the performers to connect with movement to tell the story and for the audience to connect with the performers, Argo said.

"It allows the audience to almost be closer to them because it's easier to see themselves in the characters," she said.

Argo said she uses performance art to engage the senses -- taste, touch, sounds and smells -- something that isn't normally done with traditional theater, which usually focuses on visual and auditory senses.

"I'm playing around with how to travel with that," she said.

Crushed fabricated tobacco will be strategically placed to engage the smelling sense, and warm biscuits made in Bentonville with Kentucky flour will be offered to engage taste.

"Performance art just has this ability to connect with the audience in a different way," she said.

Performance art uses the museum as the theater and provides immediacy as the fourth wall is broken down between the audience and characters, said Dayton Castleman, museum manager.

"It's unique," he said. "There's not a whole lot of performance art that takes place in Northwest Arkansas."

With a deep personal connection to the piece, Argo said she hopes it becomes a legacy piece, a gift that will tell a tale for years to come.

"My ultimate goal is that when I'm not living, someone will still be doing this piece," she said.

Argo received a bachelor of arts in theater from the University of Kentucky. She also studied installation art.

"Father's Daughter Cycle" was performed at the Louisville 21c Museum Hotel in February 2013.

NW News on 06/27/2014

Print Headline: Performance Explores Changing Southern Culture

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